Malaysia

Another Malaysian on Singapore’s death row, Pannir Selvam, loses appeal to challenge sentence


A family member is pictured wearing a T-shirt in support of Singapore death row inmate P. Pannir Selvam during a press conference in Petaling Jaya July 5, 2019. Pannir today failed in his application to initiate a challenge against his death sentence. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
A family member is pictured wearing a T-shirt in support of Singapore death row inmate P. Pannir Selvam during a press conference in Petaling Jaya July 5, 2019. Pannir today failed in his application to initiate a challenge against his death sentence. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — A 34-year-old Malaysian convicted in Singapore for trafficking heroin in 2017 has failed in his application to initiate a challenge against his death sentence.

Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, who was granted a stay of execution two years ago for his death sentence, had his judicial review application rejected by the Singaporean Court of Appeal earlier today, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

In this appeal, Pannir had contended that information he provided to the authorities was crucial to their eventual arrest of another trafficker named Zamri Mohd Tahir, and as such should be granted a certificate of substantive assistance.

The dismissal, according to the report, was hinged on whether the intel provided by Pannir to the Singaporean Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) was substantial in assisting with investigations and enough for the agency to disrupt drug trafficking activities.

It explained how under the Singaporean Misuse of Drugs Act, mules and narcotics couriers can be issued a certificate of substantive assistance by the prosecution which would see their potential death sentences reduced to life imprisonment and caning.

In delivering their judgment, the panel led by Singapore’s Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon explained how the statute contemplates that the information provided must have been used by the CNB in some way.

Menon reportedly said the term “used” in this context could mean arrest, apprehension, or conviction, or in assisting in the making of wider strategic decisions by the agency such as enforcement operations.

The bench, which also comprised Justice Judith Prakash and Justice Steven Chong, are expected to issue the full grounds of their judgment at a later date.

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The ST report also detailed how Pannir and his legal team, upon a brief exchange through the accused’s dock glass panels, bowed their heads in a quiet prayer after the dismissal was conveyed.

Pannir’s lawyer, Too Xing Ji, reportedly spoke to reporters while teary eyed after proceedings, explaining how there were no instructions from his client to file further applications.

Pannir was convicted of trafficking into Singapore 51.84 grams of heroin and was later sentenced with the mandatory death penalty.

Following a failed appeal of his sentence in 2018, Pannir and his family submitted clemency petitions to Singapore President Halimah Yacob which was also later rejected.

He sought to challenge the transparency of the pardon process.

Pannir had questioned how two separate letters were sent to his family on the same day, May 17, 2019, one came from the Istana informing them of the rejected clemency appeal, and another from the Singapore Prison Department notifying him of his execution date. 

However, an affidavit by the president’s principal private secretary explained the rejection letters were signed on May 7 but were post dated by 10 days.

A day before he was scheduled to be hanged on May 23, 2019, Singapore’s apex court granted Pannir temporary reprieve to seek for legal advice on whether he is able to mount a successful challenge against his sentencing.

But, a High Court in February last year rejected the subsequent judicial review application.

Pannir had also sought to challenge, besides the clemency process, the Public Prosecutor’s decision to not issue him a certificate of substantive assistance. 

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However Singapore’s Senior State Counsel Francis Ng, through a written submission, said how the CNB confirmed information provided by Pannir did not lead to Zamri’s eventual arrest, with Pannir even failing to identify Zamri through a series of photographs shown by authorities.

This brings to mind the fate of another Malaysian also on death row in Singapore, 33-year old  Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, a convicted drug mule with a low IQ whose own capital punishment appeal proceedings have been set for next Tuesday.



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